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Happy Independence Day!

Okay, I’m a little late, what with the spending the weekend at my parents house, with additional visitors, (I love you all, but still, ugh), trying to convince a little dog that the world isn’t going to end just because there’s thunder and/or fireworks (ugh. Also: July is a tough month for Lulu), trying to do five days worth of homework in a day and a half (see: spending the weekend with family and friends. Also, ugh) and my washing machine breaking. (expletives considerably stronger than ugh. At least things didn’t flood) So, I hope both of my American readers had a better holiday weekend than I did, and I hope that the one outside the US simply had a good weekend–you know, because it’s Wednesday now…

Also, this:

This is from an advertisement for a local grocery store. I’m choosing to believe that whoever put this ad together knew full well what random quotes do to a phrase, and truly meant those quotation marks around “safe” and “sane”.

After all, “safe” and “sane” fireworks are the best kind, right?

Please, tell me. I don’t remember–I’ve spent the last three Fourth of July’s trying with various degrees of success to peel a nervous little dog from off my face.

G and the Best Toy Ever

Yesterday, Mom and G went on an adventure–Mom had promised to buy G a toy because his birthday is coming up.  I asked to go with them, because the toy store they were going to is close to my house, and I was worried that my plants needed water.

On the way up, we were talking to G about what toy he was going to pick–and made sure he knew that he had to choose the very best one.  Mom and I started talking about what we thought was the very best toy.  Mom thought she probably would have chosen a doll.

I remembered the toy I always wanted but never got.  See, growing up in the middle of nowhere, trips to the toy store was a rare treat.  Sis and I would memorize the toy section of the various catalogs that came home, choosing what we thought were the best toys ever.  Sometimes, we would get those toys, but most often, we did not.

I chose, as my Best Toy Ever, an artist set that was sold in the JC Penney catalog year after year.  I was happy to see they still sell it online.   I never got this art set–I think Mom used the very legitimate excuse that it would be too messy.

I think that half the reason I still remember this toy as the one that pinned after is that I never got it.

I’ve gathered all of the various art supplies included over the years, and kind of ironically, my favorite medium is watercolor pencil–which isn’t included here.

G was as serious as I’ve ever seen a three-year-old as he was wandering up and down the aisles of the toy store.  We finally had to remind him that he could choose something, then if he saw a better toy, he could put the one he already chose back.

First, he chose a firehouse play set, complete with fire truck, fire fighters, and noise.  Then, he announced  “AUNT CORI!  I WANT TO PUT THE FIRE STATION BACK!”  He then chose a dump truck, that would pick up the garbage can, make noise and talk.

But then, we found The Very Best Toy of All.  We found football players!

G ended up choosing four collectible football player figurines, which, of course, being three, he didn’t realize that they were supposed to be placed in their stands and put on the shelf to look at. They’re shaped like actual pro players, but me, being as sports deficient as I am didn’t recognize any of the names.  On the way back to Mom’s house, I had to sit in the back seat and play with him.  You know, until the motion sickness kicked in.

So, I was thinking about this last night, and I was wondering, if you, dear reader, were to choose your best toy ever, what would you choose?  What’s the one toy you wanted but never got, or what was/is your favorite toy?  I’d love to hear about it.

Growing up is so overrated.

I figured something out:  If you want to cheer up, you should do something that you enjoyed doing as a kid.  Like building a fort.

One of the things that sold me on my condo was these awesome shelves that a previous owner had installed in the bedroom–great storage for books without cluttering up the floor with an actual bookcase.  For most of the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve had my bed next to a wall with a short little shelf.

When I thought I was getting a desktop computer, I moved my bed to the wall under the long shelves, and ever since then, I’ve wanted to drape sheets off the shelves to make a fort.

Here’s how my bed normally looks: Notice the beautiful quilt and pillowcase my mom made, and gave me for Christmas.  And the totally awesome shelves.  And my book collection.  Doesn’t this call for a fort?

I went to a thrift store today, and purchased some sheets that were bigger than the twin size I have around my house (That’s not the only reason I went to the thrift store, but since I was there…)

After washing them in hot water,  I carefully suspended the sheets, using my books and book ends as weights.  This is what I got from the outside:

Eh?  Eh?

Okay, so it doesn’t look so great, BUT forts don’t have to look great, right?

The inside is much better, AND has the added benefit of confusing the heck out of shih tzus:

The part you can’t see:  When Lulu can’t figure out how to get down, she starts playing with my toes.

My fort even has a TV:

it’s those little things that make it special.

Okay, I admit, I’m about 18 years past the point when people usually stop building forts out of blankets and sheets, but dangit, I haven’t stopped giggling since I started this little project.

I’m going to have to do some experimenting, to make sure that books and bookends won’t come down if the sheets get tugged on too hard.  If that works, I’m totally going to leave it up overnight.

Because a confused shih tzu makes for an entertained Cori.  And that’s all that matters, right?

* NOTE: I love my dogs.  I actually do try to make their lives easier.  I don’t confuse them on purpose very often.   A confused shih tzu is entertaining, but a content shih tzu is a great cuddler, and I prefer the cuddles.

Ghost Stories

It’s February, and, if you work in Hollywood, anyway, that means two things.  First, an overabundance of cheesy romantic movies for Valentines Day, and second, it’s time for the theatrical release of the scary movies so they’ll be come out on DVD in time for Halloween.

I thought I get into the spirit (ahem) of things, and, since I don’t have any plans for Valentines Day (besides going to church) I thought I’d share my experiences with ghosts.  Or something.

The first one happened when I was about 14.  I was spending time with my grandparents on the ranch they owned at the time, in Steptoe Valley, in Eastern Nevada.

Google wouldn't let me embed this map, but if you click on it, it will take you to the Google Maps version of this image.

I can’t remember why I was there when my sister or none of my cousins were–I spent a lot of time on my Grandparent’s ranch, but usually as part of a family gathering–holidays or helping to vaccinate, brand or AI the cattle (if you don’t know what AI is, don’t ask.  And yes, I have helped with all three activities, although, there is a shortage of wimmenfolk on that side of my family, so I usually spent my time in the kitchen helping prepare meals for the big strong working men.)

One night, I was asleep with my arms above my head.  I felt a tickle on the inside of my arm and armpit–like someone was dragging a feather across my arm.  I had a pet bird at the time, (though not with me in Nevada) and I woke up enough to think it was my sister (who was perhaps one hundred miles away) tickling me with one of Sidney’s feathers.  I mumbled “Knock it off, [Sister’s Name]”, and opened my eyes.

I saw, standing at the foot of my bed, a boy about the same age I was at the time.  He had red hair and freckles, and was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and overalls.  I could see that he was laughing, but not maliciously–it was more like he’d just pulled a joke and was happy to see that it worked, but I didn’t hear anything. Oh, and I could see through him.  I thought “Oh, it’s just a ghost”, and closed my eyes to go back to sleep.  By that time, what I had just seen had time to sink in, and my brain started shouting at me, so I sat straight up in bed, with my eyes wide open, but whatever I had just seen disappeared.

This ranch is very secluded, and I was the only kid my age for perhaps 20 miles.  One of the hired men who lived on site at that time had a wife and children, but the kids were little–4 and 2, not to mention Hispanic.

It was years before I told anyone that story, I still haven’t told my Grandparents–they are very down to earth and Grandma would probably just laugh at me.

I fully acknowledge that the tickle that I felt could have been something like a fly or a random breeze, and the ghost could have been part of a dream, but I haven’t experienced anything like that before or since–and it change my life, at least in the fact that when I sleep with my arms above my head now, I make sure they’re covered.

The second experience is much more difficult to put into words.

I was living in Logan, Utah, going to school at Utah State University.  I moved into an off-campus apartment, and, during the course of the year that I lived there, several strange, if subtle, things happened–it wasn’t until after I moved out did I think that they might be connected, and perhaps there was a paranormal explanation to them.  I am aware that it could have all been a series of strange, random coincidences that just happened to take place while I was living in that apartment–and only when I was living in that apartment.

First, I would have episodes sleep paralysis, averaging out to be about once every six weeks or so.  I would feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, then wake up enough to know that there wasn’t, start to fall back asleep, feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, wake up enough to know that there wasn’t…this would happen four or five times in a row until I either managed to completely fall asleep or completely wake up.

I was taking a psychology class at the time, and knew about sleep paralysis and hypnogogic trances, so they I found these episodes more annoying than freaky.  And they completely stopped when I moved out of that apartment–even though my sleep, work or school schedules hadn’t changed, and my stress load hadn’t lightened any.

That apartment had three bedrooms, so I had two roommates.  We were all issued keys that would lock and unlock the front door, and the door to our individual bedrooms–but not the other two bedrooms in the house.  Somehow, I managed to constantly lock my keys inside my bedroom–to the point where I had an extra made that I kept hidden in one of the house plants.  On one occasion, I locked myself out of my bedroom, but the property manager couldn’t come to open the door for me until morning.  I spent the night on a cramped, uncomfortable love seat.  While I was trying to fall asleep, I felt a kindly presence, and had the distinct impression that it was amused that I had locked myself out of my bedroom.

In retrospect, that kindly presence was pretty much a constant companion in that apartment, to the point where it felt like I was never alone.  I remember on more than one occasion, coming home and feeling like the apartment was occupied, then being surprised when a while later both of my roommates walked through the door.

The word “Townhome” might better describe this property–it was two stories, with the kitchen, living room and a half-bath on the main level, and the bedrooms and a full bath on the second level.  One day, I was coming out of my bedroom and tripped on the stairs.  I slid down on my knees–I remember watching in horror as the wall at the bottom of the stairs came closer and closer, but my arms were pinned to my side, so I couldn’t raise my hands to stop myself from hitting the wall.  I did manage to turn my head so I didn’t break my nose or split my lip–though I did end up with a wicked rug burn on my knees and a large bruise on my cheek.

I fully admit that I’m a klutz, and I could have tripped on my own, but I don’t know why my arms didn’t work when I tried to pull them up to protect my head from hitting the wall.

Like I said, I’m not even sure that these experiences were connected in any way, or that there is a paranormal explanation to them.  I certainly didn’t think so at the time–I loved that apartment and would have stayed, but the property management company raised the rent to the point where I could no longer afford to.  It wasn’t until much later did I realize that some people might consider that apartment to be haunted.

I don’t know if my experiences with the paranormal mean anything–or even if they were paranormal experiences.  I do believe in an afterlife, and I think there’s a lot in this world that we don’t understand–and it’s phenomenally stupid to try and seek out ghosts and demons and the like.

That being said, even if I was provided a scientific explanation for what happened to me both in Nevada or in Logan (like sleep paralysis) I don’t know if that would be the beat-all, end-all answer.  Just because we know how something happens, doesn’t mean we know why it happens.

So, apparently, there is some sort of large sporting event happening today.

So, I was examining the list of things I care about, you know the one that starts out:

  1. The Church
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Max & Lulu
  5. Ice Cream
  6. Chocolate

And there are three words that don’t appear anywhere on that list–sports, football or Superbowl.

It’s not that I don’t understand football–I know the rules and how points are scored, I just don’t enjoy watching it on TV.  I don’t enjoy watching any sport on TV.  I had this revelation while watching a basketball game–I’m watching ten men run a ball up and down the court.  Nothing ever really changes, and, while there are moments of excitement, they are few and far enough in-between that it doesn’t make it worth watching for me.

I’m not even really interested in the Superbowl commercials.  I’m sure that I’ll see the good ones later on.  Even if I don’t like sports, it seems a shame that what is arguably the biggest sporting event in the US is overshadowed by the advertisers who make it possible.  I wonder how long until the football itself is canceled, and we just have a yearly event where we watch the biggest, best, most expensive commercials that Bud Lite and Coca-Cola can put out.

With all that being said, I am super excited about the Olympics.  But the events that I like to watch don’t tend to be the popular ones.  I’d much rather watch, say, curling than the women’s figure skating competition. I like the sports that are more about skill than hype.

For those of you keeping track at home, I have no plans to watch the Superbowl.  Animal Planet’s Puppybowl?  Maybe.  It depends on how annoyed I am with Max and Lulu.

Although I hear that they have disapproving bunny cheerleaders this year…

Disney really needs to fire its ad executives.

If you have spent any time at all watching TV shows or movies on Hulu lately, you probably have come across a long-format commercial for Disney Blu Ray.  The tagline for this commercial is “Create New Memories”, and it directs you to this website.  I tried to find a version of the commercial that I could post in my blog, but, after diving into the equally scary worlds of Disney and YouTube, this video was the closest I could find.

I should probably mention that I came across this ad repeatedly while watching anime that is rated–oh, wait, my parents read this blog–let’s just say it’s rated a bit higher than the standard family friendly fair.

So, here’s the thing.  I grew up in the age of the VCR.  I remember watching movies with my family and friends, but I don’t remember a single instance of watching a particular movie in a particular location with anybody in particular. Wait, that’s not true, I did insist my parents rent “The Princess Bride” every time I got to choose the movie or we had a sleepover, but that’s only because my Mom put her foot down and said no more.

I do remember playing outside, or playing dolls/dinosaurs with my friends. (Amber was always a dinosaur when we played Barbies, her choice)  I remember reading books, like Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Little House on the Prairie box set, Island of the Blue Dolphins and A Wrinkle in Time.  I even remember reading more obscure titles, like The Diamond in the Window or I Spent My Summer Vacation Kidnapped Into Space .  And those are just the titles I can remember off the top of my head.  If I thought about it, I could come up with a much longer list.  I remember family vacations, including a road trip to Bear Lake via Wendover. (For those of you unfamiliar with Utah geography, Bear Lake straddles the Utah/Idaho border, and is very close to Wyoming.  Wendover straddles the Utah/Nevada border on I-80. Basically, we started a road trip to points east by driving 120 miles west.)  I have fond memories of singing songs and playing games, but not of watching movies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Disney movies, especially the animated ones that were released during the 90’s.  I remember walking to the movie theater to see “The Lion King”, but it’s not one of my top 100 favorite memories.

I know that Disney is all about making money under the guise of family entertainment, but please, don’t reduce the American family to a group of individuals who does nothing together except watch TV. (Yes, I am aware there are families like that.  Leave me alone.)  If the memories of the rising generation are all about watching “Up” or “Cars” on Blu-Ray, than we as a society don’t deserve to continue.

I have never once waxed nostalgic about watching “Alf” or “Punky Brewster” even though those were my favorite shows as a kid.  I don’t remember a single movie of my early childhood (except Princess Bride), even though I now know there were some amazing Jim Hansen kids movies put out during the early to mid 80’s.

Disney, please re-think this ad campaign.  “Create New Memories” is a great tag line–please use it for one of your parks. Movies and TV do not equal memories.

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